How to Remove Yourself From E-mailing Lists

We all receive large amounts of email everyday, it's said 80% of it is spam. Others might be from companies we have existing relationships with, perhaps we've purchased products from them in the past.

Either way we'd all like to reduce the amount of non-sense we receive, there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the number of non-interesting email and avoid falling into spammers traps, here they are.

  1. Check the footer of any emails you get for an un-subscribe link.
    By law companies have to provide an address and a link to the un-subscribe process for any email marketing material they send. You should be able to click on the link and it will automatically remove you from that companies mailing list.
    HOWEVER BEWARE, some spammers disguise these links and send the user to potential viruses on the web. See tip 2 before proceeding.

  2. Check the legitimacy of Un-subscribe links before clicking!
    Because some spammers will disguise their spam-links with these un-subscribe links it's worth checking to see if it's a genuine un-subscribe process or not first. To do this take judgment on who sent you the email to begin with. If it's a company who've dealt with before then you shouldn't have any problems. If the message looks dodgy and talks about money, bank accounts or viagra then DONT click anything!
    Reputable companies will provide opt-out processes.

  3. No opt-out process? Then email them back with REMOVE as the subject line. But wait, not yet! Read on...
    If a message doesn't have an un-subscribe link and process you may have to email the sender back with the words REMOVE as the subject line. Again, take judgment on who the sender is. By not providing a compulsory opt-out process you should immediately be weary. Some reply address wont even exist which in turn the message shouldn't be trusted at all. Reply addresses ending with @gmail.com, @googlemail.com, @hotmail.com, @mail.ru, @aol.com, @excite.com are all usually spammers addresses. The worse thing you can do in this instance is reply, by replying your telling the spammers you have an active email account and they'll simply send you more.
    If in doubt, don't reply, try the next step.

  4. If you Don't Trust the Message? Block the Sender.
    If you don't trust the message or the links within it, if any, your best practice is to block the senders email address. Depending on what email client you use its simple enough to block the sender of that message or at least divert all message from that sender to your junk box.

  5. Can you call or write to the company / sender directly? Try it
    If the email message doesn't have an opt-out process does it provide any other contact information about the company or sender? Can you contact the company by telephone or postal mail and ask for removal that way? Is there a website address featured, is it a legitimate website (check by manually typing into a browser, don't click on the link it may be factitious) If you can contact the company / sender directly do so as a last resort in an attempt to resolve the matter, keep records of any communications sent.

  6. Complain to the ICO - Information Commissioners Office
    The ICO cover UK based spam regulations as well as many other communication types like telephone, direct mail etc.
    If you feel your being spammed by a UK company/mailer that doesn't provide contact information or an automated opt-out process then the ICO might be able to help.
    Also, read the following extract from the www.ico.gov.uk website;

    Electronic mail marketing messages should not be sent to individuals without their permission unless all these following criteria are met:

    • The marketer has obtained your details through a sale or negotiations for a sale.
    • The messages are about similar products or services offered by the sender.
    • You were given an opportunity to refuse the marketing when your details were collected and, if you did not refuse, you were given a simple way to opt out in every future communication.

    We (The ICO) may be able to help if:

    1. you have received an electronic mail marketing message which you did not ask for or which does not otherwise comply with the above criteria;
    2. the sender is based in the UK; and
    3. you can identify the sender.

    The regulations do not cover electronic mail marketing messages sent to businesses.
    Extract source: Can be found here (you can find the complain form on this page)

Hopefully this guide will give you a good starting run on cleaning up your inbox each day. Remember to be careful what you click on and who you reply to.
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Author: James King
Dated: August 6th 2011

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